The Washington Wizards are one of two lower seeds to reach three wins in the 2014 NBA Playoffs so far, beating the Chicago Bulls 98-89 in game 4 behind a very strong game from Trevor Ariza and an impressive performance from John Wall to make everything come together.
The Bulls have only their defense to count upon to bring them back into the series, but Carlos Boozer was mainly responsible for Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson running around, trying to put their fingers in a hole-filled dam. You could just see the frustration on Noah’s face each time someone made a mistake on defense, as the Bulls managed to make a game of it in the fourth quarter but made too many mistakes on both ends of the floor throughout the game to mount a sufficient comeback.
The Bulls turned the ball over 16 times and allowed 29 points off of them while also giving up 14 offensive rebounds, mostly coming from Trevor Booker who did a very good job in place of the suspended Nene. Booker had nine points and 10 rebounds, constantly finding himself open while Boozer was having an awful game – one big hole on defense and completely ineffective offensively, as the Bulls tried to get back into the game with outside shooting and failed.
The Wizards won the game with a 16-2 advantage in fast break points. They turned the ball over only six times in the game, the fewest the Bulls have forced in a game this season. Trevor Ariza has been important throughout this series just by being on the court. This time he really stood out with his 30 points, including 6-of-10 from beyond the arc. He was 6-of-9 on catch-and-shoot jumpers and is making that shot at a 52.2% accuracy rate so far in the postseason, much better than the rest of his teammates.
The Bulls were awful from the outside, hitting only 4-of-19 3-point attempts, as Kirk Hinrich and Jimmy Butler just couldn’t get it going. The Wizards did a good job on Joakim Noah, once again troubling him whenever he was trying to run the game for the Bulls from the high post, as Gortat and Booker managed ti fill in for Nene and make it seem like he wasn’t missing at all. Gortat added 17 points, although he shot a very bad 6-of-18 from the field.
Then there was John Wall, who is realizing that his main strength, at least in this series, will be slashing through a defense and not trying to take the game on his shoulders. He tried, but the Bulls usually allow only one player to really go off on them. Wall made only 4-of-15 from the field but he did finish with 15 points and 10 assists, and did an excellent job of pushing his team forward in transition, something the Bulls couldn’t keep up with.
It comes down to another game in Chicago, one the Bulls can’t afford to lose. With their backs against the wall some teams find their best in them, but it seems that the dynamics of this series are going and pointing in just one direction, and unless the Wizards plan on slowing down or not taking advantage of the weaknesses before them, it’s going to be hard denying them making it into the conference semifinals.